World Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities
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World Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities. 2022, 8(1), 9-13
DOI: 10.12691/wjssh-8-1-2
Open AccessArticle

Participatory Research Methods: Importance and Limitations of Participation in Development Practice

Vincent Kanyamuna1, and Kangacepe Zulu2

1School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of Development Studies, University of Zambia, Lusaka, Zambia

2University of Bolton, Greater Manchester, England

Pub. Date: December 27, 2021

Cite this paper:
Vincent Kanyamuna and Kangacepe Zulu. Participatory Research Methods: Importance and Limitations of Participation in Development Practice. World Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities. 2022; 8(1):9-13. doi: 10.12691/wjssh-8-1-2

Abstract

Since more than four decades ago, the need to adopt participatory approaches in development planning, budgeting, implementation, monitoring and evaluation has increased exponentially. More precisely, there has been a demand by both state and non-state actors to undertake development interventions using both top-down and bottom-up approaches to promote a balanced participation and empowerment of various stakeholders including the marginalised poor. This article espouses the importance and limitations of participation in development practice. In order to achieve that objective, the study takes a critical consideration of participatory research methods. The case made herein is that ‘participation’ is crucial for any development process—it increases efficiency and sustainability of interventions; leads to empowerment; enhances achievement of development goals; and it also transforms the development actors’ paradigms. Conversely, the study also argues that participation inasmuch as it possesses clear benefits and empowering effects, it is without disadvantages. Some contentious viewpoints are that participation lacks proof to cause empowerment and sustainability; it fails to resolve the power relations problem; and that it only works well with small projects while another view is that PRA tools are usually over praised. Regardless, this study recommends that i) participation should be considered as a strong alternative to development; ii) participation must draw its boundaries clearly; and iii) participation should also be taken as a catalyst for knowledge and skills transfer.

Keywords:
participation participatory methods evaluation monitoring research development PRA Zambia

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